When I lived in Nebraska, I met a white poet who explained to me in her slight southern twang that her family was “native” to the plains, “as old as the dirt.” I struggled to reconcile her familial placemaking with her erasure of Indigeneity—until now. This woman's claim to settler longevity in the 2010s is part of a legacy of generations of frontier narratives grown in what Molly Rozum calls the “gumbo” of transnationalism (xiv). The intensity with which grasslands-grown generations experienced their surroundings created a passionate sense of place inseparable from a larger regional identity, one that ignored national borders in favor of the environment. As Rozum argues, ecological and cultural change were intertwined (120).

Rozum's book follows a chronology of the first immigrant and citizen settlers in the heart of the grasslands in the late nineteenth century through their adolescence and into adulthood. Through diaries and letters, she...

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